The summer holidays are due to start this weekend, for some they have already started and for the odd couple they start next week but whenever the schools break up the concerns of the parents going into the 6 weeks are the same.
How will we entertain our children for 6 consecutive weeks?
How will we juggle work and childcare for 6 weeks?
How will we fund all this?
For the majority of parents up and down the country the reality of the summer holidays is that it brings with it an increase in costs. Whether that is trying to find affordable child care to replace the school days whilst parents are at work, or whether it is to pay for days out, extra food to replace the free school meals for all KS1 children, or to fund summer holidays in the height of the price brackets, or even a combination of all of these, there is no getting away from the fact that as lovely as the summer holidays are they can cause significant financial concerns for the majority of parents.
So here are some of my top tips about how to reduce these money worries.
1.) Picnics are perfect
Picnics need to be a key staple for the summer holidays. They can be taken to all major theme parks and attractions, they can be taken to all free places likes parks, forests and beaches and they can even be eaten in the garden, in a den or in a tent with mates whilst they pretend to camp. Picnics are a great way of reducing the costs of days out as they can be made at a fraction of the price of a meal in a restaurant but they are also cost effective for at home as most things can be bulk bought making it cheaper, especially if you find yourself with a house full of other peoples children enjoying various play dates.
2.) Research your FREE local attractions
Start by making a list of all the parks in a reasonable travel distance and try and tick them all off. You could even create a tick list with the children. Then start to look for other free attractions like the forests, beaches, open farm days and museums. Also google your local town and see if they have any children’s activities running, near us we have local free film screenings and craft events throughout summer.
3.) Membership passes
If you are thinking of having days out throughout summer and want to make them a bit cheaper then look at annual passes. Most of them can offer huge savings but always make sure you will use them enough to warrant the extra cost. If the pass only gets you into one place will the children get bored going every week? My two favorites are the zoo as although this is the same the animals are always getting up to different things and each visit varies, plus they have parks and boat rides at ours as well as the option to use our pass at a number of other zoos if we wanted to travel for a day out. The other is our national trust membership which we can use at 100’s of locations across the country each offering different things. Even if we just go for a walk and a picnic it’s an adventure and a day out that will cost very little.
4.) Book in advance
During the 6 weeks most families will want to go on at least one main day out to an attraction, some maybe more. My advice isn’t not to go but to try and plan it in advance and book the tickets at least a week before and online as doing both of these usually makes it cheaper. I would also advise you to look for discount codes either on line or on food packages and in magazine as they often have 2 for 1, or child free places at this time of year and then work out which ones give you the best discount.
5.) Keep an eye on your finances
It is very easy over summer to spend money without realising it, a little treat here, day out there, it soon adds up and if you don’t keep an eye on your accounts you could find yourself in trouble with charges, overdraft fees or credit card bills you can’t afford. If you know that you are going to need a small cash injection to see you through the summer then look at getting one in advance for the amount you need and no more but always consider these factors before borrowing money. Make sure you spend that money on what you got it for and make sure you have a repayment system for after summer that is affordable once the added costs have stopped. I would always suggest you shop around and do your research for things like this but cashlady.com is a great starting point as they are regulated by the FCA, they specialise in short term loans and pride themselves on having no hidden fees which I feel is really important.
If you don’t want to borrow money then maybe look at ways you can earn extra money, start in January and save up specifically for the summer holidays.
My most important advice as we head into the summer holidays is have fun and make memories with your babies whilst they still want you too. This year, if I have learnt anything it is that my boys are growing so quickly and I don’t think it will be too long before they want to enjoy their summers with their friends instead of with me.